Mark my words, when a society has to resort to the lavatory for its humour, the writing is on the wall.
But God, whatever else He is, and of course He is everything else, is not a fool.
Children always assume the sexual lives of their parents come to a grinding halt at their conception.
If you find yourself born in Barnsley and then set your sights on being Virginia Woolf it is not going to be roses all the way.
What, above all, I'm primarily concerned with is the substance of life, the pith of reality. If I had to sum up my work, that's it, really. I'm taking the pith out of reality.
I dont know whether you've ever looked into a miner's eyes for any length of time, that is. Because it is the loveliest blue you've ever seen. I think perhaps that's why I live in Ibiza, because the blue of the Mediterranean, you see, reminds me of the blue of the eyes of those Doncaster miners.
Schweitzer in the Congo did not derive more moral credit than Larkin did for living in Hull.
Our father the novelist; my husband the poet. He belongs to the ages just don't catch him at breakfast. Artists, celebrated for their humanity, they turn out to be scarcely human at all.
However, living in Tel Aviv, he was spared the fate of equivalent figures in English culture, an endless round of arts programmes where those who have known the famous are publicly debriefed of their memories, knowing as their own dusk falls that they will be remembered only for remembering someone else.
He is interested in the feelings of the squash ball, and of the champagne bottle that launches the ship. In a football match his sympathy is not with either of the teams but with the ball, or, in a match ending nil-nil, with the hunger of the goalmouth.
The Channel is a slipper-bath of irony through which we pass these serious Continentals in order not to be infected by their gloom.
One of the good things about Larkin is that he still has you firmly by the hand as you cross the finishing-line, whereas reading Auden is like doing a parachute-drop: for a while the view is wonderful, but then you end up on your back in the middle of a ploughed field and in the wrong county.
I have no doubt that in heaven the angels will regard the blessed as a necessary evil.
Kafka could never have written as he did had he lived in a house. His writing is that of someone whose whole life was spent in apartments, with lifts, stairwells, muffled voices behind closed doors, and sounds through walls. Put him in a nice detached villa and hed never have written a word.
We have fish and chips, which W. and I fetch from the shop in Settle market-place. Some local boys come in and there is a bit of chat between them and the fish-fryer about whether the kestrel under the counter is for sale.Only when I mention it to W. does he explain Kestrel is now a lager. I imagine the future is going to contain an increasing number of incidents like this, culminating with a man in a white coat saying to one kindly, "And now can you tell me the name of the Prime Minister?"